West grad: ‘Without NH-JAG, I don’t think I would be here right now’

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From left, Manchester School of Technology (MST) Student Alexandria Ismael, New Hampshire Jobs for America’s Graduates (NH-JAG) Specialist Brandon Doyle, MST Principal Karen Machado, MST student Gabriella Cuelho, MST student Elizabeth Shepherd and NH Department of Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut (l-r) celebrated the Manchester School District’s NH-JAG Leadership Award on Tuesday. Courtesy Photo

CONCORD, NH – “Without NH-JAG, I don’t think I would be here right now.”

Those were the powerful words of Steven Santiago, who participated in the New Hampshire Jobs for America’s Graduates (NH-JAG) program at Manchester High School West and went on to graduate from the University of New Hampshire with a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Engineering.  Santiago was honored at the NH-JAG 13th Annual Leadership Awards Event at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord Tuesday morning.  He was in good company.

Manchester School District Superintendent Dr. Bolgen Vargas (left) was congratulated Tuesday on his New Hampshire Jobs for America’s Graduates (NH-JAG) Leadership Award by NH Department of Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut (right).

Also honored at the event were Congressman Chris Pappas, the Manchester School District and Dr. Bolgen Vargas, Superintendent, for their leadership and commitment to improving the lives of NH youth. AT & T was also recognized for its generous contributions that have made it possible for many New Hampshire young men and women to recognize the value of their education and pursue rewarding careers.

“Working together and looking out for each other, we can ensure that more New Hampshire students can fully participate in our state’s educational opportunities and economic success,” said Congressman Pappas in accepting his award.

Dr. Susan Huard, New Hampshire Jobs for America’s Graduates (NH-JAG) Board Chair (left), Tuesday presented Congressman Chris Pappas (right) with a NH-JAG Leadership Award for his commitment to improving the lives of NH youth. Courtesy Photo

For 31 years, NH JAG has successfully served over 18,000 young people and last year attained a 100% graduation rate among its participating students. The statewide program facilitates learning, skill development and community involvement, empowering these young adults to identify their goals and to define and follow a productive path within which to achieve those goals.

“NH-JAG is developing the talent our nation needs to fuel the economy with new members of the workforce who are both prepared and resilient,” said NH-JAG Executive Director Janet Arnett.  “We recognize the importance of supporting young people on their journey toward adulthood and together with our community partners and supporters, we are changing lives everyday.”

Sponsors for this years Leadership Event included Hannaford, the Walmart Distribution Center, Eversource, Manchester Community College, The Rowley Agency and Northeast Delta Dental.